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State Reauthorizes UNC Teacher Education Programs with Extension of Conditions

Teacher reading to students

June 12, 2020

The Colorado State Board of Education on Thursday approved reauthorization of the University of Northern Colorado’s 34 teacher education programs with an extension of conditions in literacy instruction for two endorsement areas offered at the university.

A state review team that visited campus in February issued the recommendation to the board, noting UNC’s adherence to state standards and progress in the two conditional areas following the previous site visit in 2018.  While the programs, Elementary Education and Early Childhood Education, significantly revised their courses dedicated to literacy instruction with textbook changes to ensure better coverage of content aligned to the science of teaching reading, they must further demonstrate that their curriculum conforms with state standards for scientific-based reading instruction practices.

“UNC has definitely been teaching evidence-based reading strategies, and that’s important for me to call out,” Colorado Department of Education Associate Commissioner Colleen O’Neil told the board Thursday. “What we’re wondering about and what we want to support is the breadth and the depth.”

In the findings, the review team was encouraged by UNC’s coursework around reading instruction as it aligns with state reading endorsement standards. The team specifically acknowledged the Special Education program for improving on the already strong foundation reviewers observed in 2018.

“I appreciate the work that’s being done,” said state board member Debora Scheffel. “I’m confident that it’s moving in the right direction, and that it’s already occurred in some of those programs, most specifically in Special Education.”

The College of Education and Behavioral Sciences’ collaboration with the Colorado Department of Education and the Colorado Department of Higher Education, and the college’s willingness to accept feedback to improve were also praised in the report.

Corey Pierce“As the largest educator preparation institution in the state, we at the University of Northern Colorado certainly appreciate the reauthorization process to ensure that the teachers we prepare are highly effective when they enter the classroom,” Associate Dean of the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences Corey Pierce, Ph.D., said in his opening remarks to the Board. “We definitely see the value in collaborating with our colleagues at the Department of Education and the Department of Higher Education. We appreciate all the time they have spent working with us through this reauthorization process.”

Measures of newly prepared UNC teacher candidates show they are effective in the classroom, according to the Educator Preparation Program dashboard provided by the state.

“There is no doubt scientifically based reading instruction is a fundamental strategy every teacher should have before going into classroom,” said college Dean Eugene Sheehan. “We are committed to continuing to ensure that every teacher that graduates from UNC with licensure is confident and competent in the area.”

What’s Next

While 32 teaching programs at UNC received full authorization by the state,UNC will submit the following for the remaining two that received an extension for conditional reauthorization:

    • Updated endorsement matrices addressing state review findings to ensure alignment with research-based reading instruction in Elementary and Early Childhood to state endorsements rules.
    • Updated Elementary and Early Childhood course sequencing schedules and all syllabi for any courses that are identified by the program aligned to reading endorsement rules.

UNC will participate in a state review team visit in late spring semester 2021 to ensure implementation of identified areas of improvement around teaching reading content and instruction in the elementary and early childhood endorsement areas.

Related: Read the report (PDF)

—Written by Nate Haas